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Increasing Work Pressure Spurs Growth of Mainland Counselling Sector

Although yet to be widely accepted by the public, counselling services are now available in many parts of China.

Photo: China crisis: Can counselling help soothe the minds of mainlanders? (Shutterstock.com)
China crisis: Can counselling help soothe the minds of mainlanders?
Photo: China crisis: Can counselling help soothe the minds of mainlanders? (Shutterstock.com)
China crisis: Can counselling help soothe the minds of mainlanders?

The ability to work under stress is now a frequent requirement by employers when they begin the candidate selection process. While every interviewee typically claims to be able to handle a demanding workload, many are actually unaware of what this actually may entail or require.

Most experts now agree that there are three distinct categories of work-related stress – acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. Each level of stress, as well as the duration of any such exposure, requires a particular strength on the part of the individual.

One particular form of work-related stress comes in the shape of the need for continuous education, a process that obliges employees to continue studying and take exams throughout their career. Typically, such examinations are related to admissions for post-graduate courses, promotions, salary increases and career-enhancing secondments. While success in these exams can be very rewarding, the process does impose continuous stress on those whose career depends on it. This is part of the reason why there is now a growing need for career-related stress counselling services.

The need for counsellors and privately-run counselling practices has been acknowledged in China for a considerable time, although such services have yet to be widely accepted by the general public. In the city of Qingdao, for instance, the employment counselling business has welcomed a number of start-ups over recent years, most notably the Qingdao Aiduo Psychological Counseling Agencies and Qingdao Ruoshui Psychology Consultation.

Qingdao Aiduo positions itself as a comprehensive counselling practice. It offers counselling services with regard to relationships, marriage and child psychology, as well as various kinds of mental problems. The company claims to have considerable experience in individual counselling, group counselling, and employee assistance programmes (EAP). It has also offered professional help to a many patients suffering from a variety of psychological problems, including obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression, anxiety, school problems, internet addiction, examination phobia, marital problems and antisocial behavior. The company also has a training programme for would-be counsellors.

Qingdao Ruoshui Psychology Consultation, its main competitor, was launched in October 2010. It sees its mission as helping its clients to resolve psychological issues and enabling them to fulfil their potential, while maximising their personal growth. The company employs a number of part-time counsellors, all with backgrounds as psychology instructors at higher education institutes.

In many of the more developed nations, the counselling sector is far more well-established than in China. This has seen the rise of counselling services with a focus on particular needs, such as relationships or careers. It is thought that this will be the likely forward direction for such services across the mainland.

Joanna Liu, Qingdao Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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